Saturday, May 1, 2010

My Characters - Past, Present, and Future

Currently I'm only playing in LFR sessions. My first LFR character - Voranna, the Eladrin Archer Ranger - recently hit level 5, so I had to make another low-tier character. I just started playing Kryla, the Dragonborn Cosmic Sorcerer last month. I'm really hoping to find another D&D group soon, because I'm tired of DMing, and I have a lot of characters I'd like to play eventually. Most of them aren't optimized enough to survive an LFR session, and would be better for a roleplay group.

One thing I always like to think about when coming up with a new character is their primary motivation. I see too many characters designed around a love of money. There's nothing wrong with that; in fact it's a very good motivator, and it probably helps the roleplay when the character and player have the same motivations.

But it's also boring. Personally, I think it's kind of neat when a player knows that his character would probably give some gold to the beggar, but the player doesn't want to part with the coinage. I also like the in-party conflict that occurs when they aren't all doing it for the same reasons. When one character wants to go after the treasure, while another character wants to save the orphans, it can lead to some interesting interactions.

When I played Nara Cavell in the Tantris campaign, I made religion her primary motivator. She was kind and caring, and truly wanted to eliminate any suffering she saw - including that of her enemies. The problem was I overdid it, to the point that she was annoying to the party, and sometimes I was actually annoyed at myself when I played her. If I ever have the opportunity to play her again, she will have matured a little, having seen more of the world. She'll still be religious and caring, but hopefully she'll be better at seeing the big picture.

Voranna Elun, my LFR Archer, is also motivated more by kindness than money, but she's not nearly as ridiculous about it as Nara was. But if she came across an injured creature, even of the type usually considered hostile, she probably would tend to its wounds. Being a ranger, she really doesn't have as much use for money as other characters. She tends to live a simple life, sleeping in the forest and foraging for food. She gets claustrophobic in crowded cities, and is much more relaxed in a natural environment. Of course, there's not as much room for roleplay in the LFR sessions anyway, so I haven't found many opportunities to show off her personality.

In a couple of levels, I plan to have Voranna multiclass as a Cleric of Silvanus, to represent her dedication to preserving life.

Kryla Bloodfang, my Dragonborn Sorcerer, thrives on attention. She dresses in wild colors and tries to get noticed. She loves studying the reactions of other people when they first see her, and finds it fun to scare people. She likes using her powers of intimidation, but it is just a bluff - she doesn't really intend to do these people harm (most of the time). But again, I don't know if the others at the table will every actually pick up on these traits, because it's so hard to roleplay at LFR sessions. Even when I have an opportunity to show off, my general shyness usually causes me to lock up. I'm a lot more comfortable roleplaying at home games with people I know.

What follows are some other characters that I'd like to try someday. I don't know why, but I've been itching to play a red-haired Half-Elf lately. Also, Charisma is my current favorite stat. So I'm expecting my next character will be some sort of Warlock, Sorcerer, Bard, or some combination of the above. So a few of these characters might be a bit similar to each other, while I try to decide which ones I want to play most. In other words, if I play Lynnia first, then I might never play Aria, or at least she might be totally rewritten by the time I get to her.

Lynnia Krynn is my current favorite. She is a Half-Elf Warlock (Fey Pact), or possibly a Warlock/Rogue. Lynnia's primary motivation is information. She is a dabbler, who likes to learn a lot of new things, but she always gets bored before she becomes an expert on any subject. She will most likely multiclass Bard, and will take a lot of skill-related feats like Jack of all Trades or Bardic Knowledge. If there's room she might take the Linguist feat a couple of times. Lynnia always leaps before she looks, and will risk her life just to find a rare book... which she will probably never finish.

Sundra Fane is an Elf Cleric. She hates battle, but likes to help people. She will take every possible healing option available. She might work for LFR games, as long as the other party members can keep her safe. Nobody ever complains about having a healer in the party. If I play this character, I will try very hard not to make her as annoying as Nara.

Zarra D'Argo is a Drow Rogue, or possibly a Rogue/Warlock. I would say her primary motivation is probably exploration. She spent her youth in the Underdark, where the scenery never changes. She's amazed by the variety on the surface world - forests, deserts, cities, tundras; changing weather, day and night, and so on. Zarra is a good person who escaped the corruption of her evil race, but she isn't a rip-off of you-know-who. She's good-hearted, but she isn't "nice". She has a sarcastic sense of humor, enjoys making fun of her teammates, and rarely gets close to people. But when the going gets tough, her party knows they can count on her, and she wouldn't betray them for any price.

Calla Noble is a Half-Elf Battlemind. This one started as a Guardian Fighter. I'm convinced that the majority of people who play Fighters in 4e are doing it wrong. I see them build characters designed to rush in and do the most damage, but in 4e that's really more the role of a Striker. You should let the Fighters draw the fire and keep the enemies busy, while the Rogues and Rangers sneak in and do the real damage. So I want to try a really durable character who can soak up a lot of attacks. I had already statted her out as a heavily armored Human Fighter, but then PHB3 came out and the Battlemind just looked so much more interesting. With Calla I'm planning to take every defensive feat and power. I plan to take a lot of the PHB3's skill-based powers; specifically the Endurance- and Heal-based powers. So she'll play a secondary role as a healer. Oh, and her primary motivation is probably honor.

Vex is an Elf Monk. I just want to try one, they look neat. She moves fast around the battlefield, punching and kicking everything in sight. As you can tell from the portrait, I'm kind of picturing Leeloo from The 5th Element. I would like Vex to be mute, or at least have taken some sort of vow of silence, but I'm afraid I'll be accused of being antisocial.

Vanya Scarm is a Human Barbarian. I don't actually have any interest in playing a 4e Barbarian, so I probably won't get around to this one. But I did give her a big long backstory that I hate to go to waste. She comes from a barbarian tribe called "The Tribe of the Scarred Mountain".

The tribal villiage is located at the base of a large mountain in Icewind Dale (or whatever setting-appropriate icy mountainous region). They worship Tempus (or Kord, or other setting-appropriate god of battle), but believe that the Scarred Mountain is a sacred place. They believe that a great battle took place there between Tempus and a powerful enemy, and that their mighty blows created the gorge that gives the mountain its name.

Tribe marriages are arranged, based on age. When an unmarried tribe member reaches 16 years, they are usually betrothed to the next youngest tribe member of the opposite sex. When the second one reaches 16, they are married. (They start young because life spans are short in that environment.) Children are raised by the tribe rather than by parents.

Before marriage, tribe members must leave the villiage to go on a spiritual journey called a "Kthaya". (Sort of like a Native American vision quest.) This Kthaya includes different tasks for different people, set forth individually by the tribal chieftan. These challenges often exploit a person's specific weaknesses. (If a person is afraid of spiders, part of the test might be to sleep in a nest of spiders or slay a giant spider, etc.) Some Kthaya tasks/rules are universal. For example, participants are not allowed to bring food, and must eat only what they hunt and kill during the journey. All participants must climb to the top of the Scarred Mountain and fast until they hear the voice of Tempus. Most tasks take place on or around the Scarred Mountain.

As part of the Kthaya, Female tribe members also ritualistically scar their faces. This tradition evolved from an old tribal saying: "Never marry a beautiful woman, other men will desire her, and she will betray you." So the scarring symbolically makes you less beautiful. It is a sign of betrothal, like wedding rings, but it is also considered good luck for the marriage. Some women just give themselves a couple of simple, understated scars, while others go overboard and practically shred their faces, while still others take a more artistic approach and carve intricate designs and symbols into their skin.

(The obvious question is why men don't have the same tradition, but the tribe is sexist in that respect. On the other hand, men who cheat on their wives are executed, while cheating women go unpunished, so the women don't always get the short end of the stick.)

When Vanya returned from her tasks, her tribe had been slaughtered by giants. She never found her husband's body. Since he was on a journey at the same time she was, it's possible he wasn't killed, but she searched all the surrounding land and never found him. These journeys take different amounts of time for different people, so he might have returned before the battle. Or he might have been killed during his journey, as sometimes happens. He might have even been involved in the tribe's destruction, though such a thought would never occur to Vanya. Still, Vanya didn't know him very well, so it's possible.

Vanya tried to follow the giant tracks, but there was heavy snowfall. Eventually she tried to kill herself with honor. She threw herself from the highest peak of their sacred mountain, in hopes of her reuniting her soul with her clan. She passed out in midair, woke up in a snowdrift, completely uninjured. She doesn't know how she survived, but believes it was her god that saved her. Out-of-character, I really don't know either, and I'm leaving it up to the DM in case he ever wants to expand on it.

Vanya has black hair, but is usually bald. She shaves her head whenever she takes a life, so if you see her with hair, it's been a while since she's been in battle. She collects parts of enemies (claws, etc) for necklace. She feels it gives her strength. She fears the undead; they're just unnatural. People of her tribe have no surnames, so she uses "Scarm" (short for Scarred Mountain).

Aria Thatcher is a Half-Elf Bard. Though she is a half-elf, she is the daughter of two human farmers (which was a bit of an unhappy surprise to the father). Literally being a red-headed stepchild, she became a source of friction between her parents, and she left home early to study music in Waterdeep. Aria is very outgoing, and has a tendency to speak without thinking. She is booksmart, but often makes bad decisions. She has a very silly sense of humor, and doesn't understand why others don't laugh at her bad puns.

Aria is sort of evolved from a character I once played in Neverwinter Nights, Sillia Aylomein.

Galea Clowder is a Razorclaw Shifter Druid. This is just something crazy I'd like to try sometime. I love cats, so I wanted to make this one totally cat-themed. In addition to her primary animal form being some sort of cat, she will also take any possible cat companion options I can find, such as multiclassing Shaman (spirit companion) making her a Hybrid Ranger (Beast Mastery option) or building her so she qualifies for a familiar feat. I have not figured out a motivation for her yet, but it will probably be related to her love of nature.

Brynwyn Elswyth is an Elf Ranger. Or possibly a Ranger/Rogue Hybrid. She was one of my NeverWinter Nights characters. She's has a bubbly personality, but is prone to periods of depression, due to a tragedy in her past. Her backstory is here.

Dervish is a human fighter; I haven't decided which type. Another NWN character I'd like to try in PnP someday. Her real name is Priscilla, but she hates the name because it sounds too girly. She comes from Cormyr (or setting-appropriate honor-themed kingdom), and was raised as a tomboy.

Her father spent years trying to get her to act like a lady, but his repeated efforts just made their relationship worse, until she left home to prove herself in the world. Her expanded backstory is here.

Whisper is a human Rogue. She's based on a character in a sci-fi comic I used to draw. Her real name is Alterra Sarr. She was convicted of a murder she didn't commit, so now she's on the run from the law. She tries to stay in the shadows as much as possible (so she's probably a Shadowy Rogue). She has tattoos on her arms that indicate her prisoner status, so of course she keeps them covered. She is a good person and wants very much to help people, but she has to balance that with the necessity of keeping her identity hidden.

Tao Xiang is a human Sorcerer. Another NWN character, originally named Taochi or sometimes Tao-Chi. She's from Kara-Tur (or other setting-appropriate exotic land). In NWN I played her as a Fighter/Bard/Red Dragon Disciple, but in 4e I'd probably make her a Dragon Magic Sorcerer. But one way or another she'll have some connection to dragons. Tao enjoys reading fortunes - in NWN I would give actual Tarot readings through her.

Pepper Proudfire is a Halfling Fighter. I played her in NWN, where she was a dual-wielding Kukri Weapon Master (and it takes a LOT of feats to accomplish that). In 4e, she would probably be a Tempest Fighter. She has a spunky personality, and reminds me of one of those toy dog breeds that think they're larger than they are.

A note on the character portraits: I didn't draw them; some are from the offical WOTC art from the actual books, and a few are Neverwinter Nights portraits. The rest came from a variety of forgotten sources around the net. The same goes for the pics I have running down the side of the page. If you are the author of one of these pics, and wish for me to give you credit (or take them down), please send me an e-mail.


  1. I was hopeing you might share with me where one of your pic's of Aria Thatcher from? It is a small character profile pic located on this page, in the artifact hunters section right above blast Flashing Jr.s profile pic. This pic of her looks great and I would love to know where I could get a lrager version of this.

  2. Pardon me , it was actually the scared lands Campain. :)

  3. I got it from DeviantArt, and the artist's name is slipgatecentral. A link to his gallery is here:

    The pic you're looking for is titled "another random girl." A bit of a warning, the uncropped version is not for young eyes.